Sunday, May 6, 2007

Another useless piece of paper

The Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices has now a new set of guidelines aiming to ensure that if a worker has to be given the axe (aka got fired), it will at least be done in a fair and responsible manner. The recommendations are on how to conduct dismissals and retrenchments.

Companies should now keep detailed records of all their staff’s performance and conduct, and use these to justify their decision to dismiss an employee. The affected worker should now have the chance to defend himself, with the final verdict assessed by an impartial and independent panel comprising, for example, staff from the company’s HR department (yes, in Singapore that's an impartial party for you).

This is for groups such as mature workers and would-be mums, who have complained of being unfairly dismissed on unsubstantiated claims of poor performance this past year. There's even a 13-page booklet produced by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment.

All good, all well but so what? These are guidelines with no teeth whatsoever. Companies can ignored them with no penalties and really; if a company ignore the guidelines, who are you going to report them to? The five year old Code of Responsible Employment Practices was also widely ignored, hell it was so ignored most Singaporeans did not even know it existed! What's to say this new guidelines would have the same none effect.

This isn't a milestone for labour laws in Singapore, but another useless piece of paper. It would be nothing short of amazing if even a small percentage of companies will put these guidelines into effect. You want the guidelines to be of use, give it some teeth; or else it's nothing but a waste of time.

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